AFRICA- Flight to the Mara, Kenya – 16th Sept 2018 – Day 3

An early start to ensure our gear is loaded on the utility which will take 6 hrs to get to the Mara Camp. We flew in a small plane after a tasty breakfast, to arrive about 11am, to be confronted by 15 safari vehicles going to other camps.

We drove for 30 mins over the bumpy track on the endless grass plain, past various antelope, a multicoloured Lilac-breasted roller and a large elephant family silhouetted against the sky, crossing dry stream beds, now a series of pools lined by trees and thick bush. The plain is well grassed and green, shaded by occasional lone flat topped acacia trees.

The camp comprises tents for a lounge/bar, dining, media, a hidden kitchen, and 8 self contained double bed tents, with shower and toilet, all set on the edge of a gully, shaded by large trees. We were serenaded by cooing doves and numerous twittering small birds. The numerous staff are helpful and considerate. The lunch was so tasty it will be difficult to restrain overeating. The camp manager gave us a rundown on the camp; solar power by day, generator till 11pm. No leaving the tent! Lions have even been through. David gave a run-through on how the week will go, and we then had 2 hrs to sort out gear. I commenced this blog before setting out at 4pm.

We have done well: elephants and buffalo on a lovely stream bed, zebra, impala, topi, warthog, tails in the air, and two very sleepy old lions under a shady bush who didn’t move from 4.30 till 6.30 when we left, and a couple of curious young jackals.

We use two Toyotas; three rows of seats on the rear, one each for David, Ailine and I, plus the driver and David L in the front. The driver ensures we can always shoot out the left side so we have ample viewing. The middle of the rear rows has a seat on the right, cushions on the left, so I could kneel, camera on a bean bag supported on a rail. Very easy to use a large lens. I have taken a lot of shots, still to sort out. I will endeavour to put a few in here later, but time is running out. 7.30, dinner at 8 and up tomorrow at 5.30. (Added final shots Dec 2019)

I have enjoyed today. Privileged to be here and overwhelmed by the stark beauty of this Africa of my birth.

Maasai Mara Grasslands
Downcast Topi?

AFRICA- Flight to Kenya – 15th Sept 2018 – Day 2

Arrival Jo’burg 30mins late at 5:20am. The airport is easy to get around; we had to change from Terminal A to Terminal B. David bought us into the Emirates lounge for the showers, wifi, and food – not that we needed it.

Egoli or Jozi – the Gold City. The gold is almost all mined out, leaving huge dumps (hills) of the crushed rock and tunnels of water, often acidic as it seeps out to the surface. A sprawling city on the 6000ft (1800m) elevation high-veldt, stretching in an arc of smaller merged cities over a distance of 150km along the outcrop of the gold reef. A city of absolute wealth and absolute poverty. My city – I was born in Springs on the eastern end.

But we didn’t see it today, as we continued our flight to Nairobi, Kenya. This will be my only trip here. The plane was old; paint rubbed off the seats by hands and bags. The toilet also in a poor state, but everything worked and we arrived on time at Nairobi, to be met by the courier.

David bought our Visa’s from the Embassy in Canberra a few weeks back but we didn’t have them, only the prints of the order. After a long wait in the visa queue we were told the documents were ok but we now had to join a different queue.

The airport is several km from the city; the road hedged by varied buildings, warehouses, bus/market stops, trees, and smoky fires; scooters, cars and old variegated mini-buses (many with Christian logos) fill the road. We kept the windows up to prevent snatching in the traffic jams. The place has an air of faded grandeur.

Tonight we met David Lloyd and two of the other three photographers in our group at the Serena Hotel. A very small group so we will only have David as the guide, sharing him in two vehicles. He was very tired after 7 weeks of these safaris, the previous one for a group of 14 Indonesians mostly using phones!  We are to meet at 7 at the pool for breakfast, leaving for the airport about 8.

The hotel is very flash, as it should be at the price ($500/night). It is protected by a single guarded entry. The rear is devoted to a large pool and garden, overlooked by two restaurants and a lounge bar, which is where we had a delicious ‘light’ dinner, serenaded by a chorus of very noisy frogs.

AFRICA- Flight to Kenya – 14th Sept 2018 – Day 1

Midnight flight departures are not my favourite. Today we leave at 23:45. What a way to start a 5 week trip. 11 hrs to Jo’burg, a 5 hr wait, and 4 hrs to Nairobi, arriving today at 3pm, 5hrs behind the Perth Time Zone. I should be excited; instead I’m anxious, leaving Hilary to run the B&B alone. And there’s the unknown ahead of me. Seems to get worse as I get older! But its good that daughter Ailine and David her husband are also going – it should be an adventure.

Recalling a travel author’s reply to a question “Have you experienced any dangerous moments on your travels?” His reply, “Yes – then a voice on my shoulder says ‘this is not good but it’s going to be great in the book!”

On board a full SAA plane at 11:20. Met a Sydney couple while waiting who were very talkative about their numerous trips. I could only find China and Russia as places they haven’t been.

The young guy next to me seems only interested in the phone. Dinner was accompanied by a steel knife & fork, so unusual today.

Breakfast at 9.20 Perth time and 1 hr to land.